It’s that time of year for family vacations! If you’re like most travelers, you will bring a laptop or tablet to check email, watch videos, store photos, and keep in touch with the dog sitter (and work). Here are some helpful tips on how to travel safely with your devices.
Backup Your Valuable Data
While you don’t want to think about losing your computer, you should. Make sure you back up all of the information you would want in case it is stolen, lost, or damaged. Save your photos, home videos, music, and other files on a hard drive (and leave it at home) or use a cloud service. Another option is to bring a less valuable laptop or device – one that maybe doesn’t have as much information but will still allow you to stream funny videos or music. That way if it is left in the airport, dropped overboard on the fishing boat, or stolen from your backpack, it’s not such a traumatic loss.
Delete Any Saved Passwords
If someone is evil enough to steal your computer, they may try to gain access to other valuable information. This means you should delete information from:
- Online Portals: Clear your browser cache to make sure all fields, including passwords are not saved or pre-populated with your username and passwords.
- Applications: Delete any apps that you do not need. Most of these apps already have your login information stored. If you delete these from your laptop, you eliminate the possibility of thieves making online purchases, etc.
If you need to use some of your apps and/or online portals, see if you can set up two-factor authentication. This makes it a bit more challenging for criminals to access your data because it requires two passwords. The first, is one you know, and the second, is made up at the time of accessing and valid for a short period of time. Most of the time this is a temporary code that is texted to your mobile device.
Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi
If you aren’t storing valuable information on your laptop, then you are less likely to be taken advantage of by criminals. They may steal your laptop, but at least they can’t steal your identity. However, criminals can be clever. For instance, if you are in “A Generous Coffee Shop” and see a wireless network named “A Generous Coffee Shop,” you would assume this is the public Wi-Fi. If a prompt appeared, asking you for your name, email, phone number, you may not question it and enter it in. However, it could be someone (read: criminal) using their own personal hotspot, that they named “A Generous Coffee Shop,” trying to get your information.
It is much safer to use your own hotspot, from your mobile device or phone carrier, then to jump on an unsafe, public network that is open to everyone, including criminals. It may eat some of your data, but your identity and peace of mind is worth it, right?
Log Out of Your Email
The amount of personal information we store in our email accounts is astonishing. Most of us have our credit card bills, for example, routed to our email. If your computer is compromised and you had your Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo or other email account open, a criminal could easily gather a lot of personal information. They could also change your email password, locking you out completely. Make sure you not only close your browser windows and applications, but make sure you log out of anything and everything – especially your email account(s).
HOWARD TECH ADVISORS: YOUR PARTNER IN TECH
At Howard Tech Advisors, we manage your IT infrastructure so that you don’t have to. Whether you need assistance creating a disaster recovery plan or you’d like to outsource your IT needs, we can help! Keep up with our weekly blog to stay up-to-date on the latest tech trends, security information you need to know to stay safe online, and tips and tricks to effectively navigating an increasingly mobile world.